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Jim's Gems

EbN0 Explained
Anyone who has spent more than ten minutes researching digital communications has run across the cryptic notation Eb/No. Usually this shows up when discussing bit error rates or modulation methods. You may have a vague feeling that it represents something important about a digital communication system, but can't really put a finger on what or why... Read the complete article.

Prototyping With Surface Mount Components
Many engineers express dismay at having to build a breadboard using components that are only available in surface mount (SM) packages. Others will go to great lengths to acquire parts in through-hole versions for their prototypes and then use the SM versions for the production board... Read the complete article.

Chip Review: The Toshiba TB31262F Wireless Telephone Chip
Sometimes you find a chip that does so much more than its original intended function that it is hard to keep from using it. This is how I felt about the Toshiba TB31262F wireless telephone chip. The '262 is a complete RF section for a full duplex analog FM transceiver that also has data communications capability. It is intended to operate in the US 902 MHz to 928 MHz license-free band but with a minor change in external components it can also operate in the European 868 MHz band.... Read the complete article.

How-to: Debugging a Low-Powered RF Transmitter
We were recently commissioned to redesign a remote control transceiver operating in the 902-928 MHz license-free US band. The client had an operable unit, but its output spectrum was so ugly that the possibility of passing FCC certification testing was nil.... Read the complete article.

Around the Circuit: How does that work? An Internet Tip
The other day I was peeling one of those anti-shoplifting things off a recent purchase and I realized that I had not the foggiest clue how it worked. Here is a device that is made by the millions that uses some form of wireless technology, my specialty, on which I was completely uninformed .... Read the complete article.

Review of the AADE LC Meter
I finally have an instrument that I have wanted for many years: An LC (inductance and capacitance) meter. Yes, my digital multimeter (DMM) has a capacitance measuring function, but it is not really satisfactory for the very-low picofarad capacitors that one uses every day in RF design. And, of course, the DMM has no capability of measuring inductance. The HP - no, errrr Agilent, LCR meters are just too expensive for occasional use .... Read the complete article.

FCC Considerations for Spread Spectrum Systems
Oftentimes, potential clients call me with a great idea for a spread spectrum system. It fills a market need, it's feasible from a technical standpoint, and it's just plain sexy. On further discussion, though, it becomes evident that the system as contemplated (or in some cases, as already designed and ready to go into production) will not pass FCC Part 15 certification. While FCC experimental rules will permit the initial design and prototyping of many of these systems, any systems that are to be manufactured for sale must be certified under FCC Rules .... Read the complete article.

Book Review: Dave Gorman's Googlewhack Adventure
Dave Gorman has a problem. He has been given a large advance by a publisher to write a novel and just cannot find it within himself to put pen to paper. Instead he becomes engrossed in extreme googlewhacking. Dave Gorman's Googlewhack! Adventure, published by Overlook Press on September 15, 2004, is the very personal and occasionally hilarious chronicle of his dilemma. ... Read the complete article, which highlights the sometimes wacky side of technology.

NOTE: Please visit Spread Spectrum Scene Online for a wealth of technical articles and material on spread spectrum, RF, and other wireless and related electronics subjects.   Jim is now the Chief Technical Editor of this fine website, and more of his articles can be found there.

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